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Synopsis:

It’s Spring Break, and the Humane Seven are looking for an opportunity to relax (and get a reprieve from Equestrian magic) by going on a week-long cruise on the Lux Deluxe planned by Twilight Sparkle which features a variety of activities for each of them to enjoy. However, Rainbow Dash, (eagerly) expecting there to be another incident with Equestrian magic, ends up ruining most of the fun of the others by running around trying to sniff out any new enemies or magic relics to contend with.

As Rarity gets attracted to a somewhat simple crewman named Ragamuffin, Sunset ends up confronting Dash about her behavior potentially ruining the trip Twilight had planned. While she apologizes, Dash nevertheless wants to make a big scene at the Rainbooms’ poolside performance that evening in the not-so-secret hopes that it will attract a malevolent Equestrian force to combat. Unfortunately, instead the display seems to kill the ship’s generator and plunge the voyage into darkness just as storm clouds roll in.

Following the power outage, Dash is insistent that the reason for the failure was true malevolent Equestrian magic attacking the ship as a result of them manifesting their powers; something which the rest of the group, getting irritable about Dash’s behavior, is more than doubtful over. Things get worse when Dash ends up ruining the attempts of the girls to sneak in some of their own interests, including Twilight’s attempt to get the auxiliary power on the ship started, when she spots a strange glowing emblem in the ocean under the growing storm around them and drags the girls out to see it…only for it to vanish by the time she gets there. Twilight is especially angry at Dash for ruining the trip and insisting that there’s an enemy for them to fight, but by the next morning (with the ship still stranded in the ocean and the storm around it getting worse) she relents for losing her temper and goes out with Sunset to find her. Unfortunately, they soon discover, after failing to elicit the help of the rest of the girls, that Dash has headed off into the storm to look for the source of the emblem herself.

With Twilight and Sunset both feeling indirectly responsible for Dash’s departure, the two go off to find her while the rest of the girls try to tend to the Lux Deluxe. The two end up trailing her boat to a seemingly deserted jungle island filled with wildlife, and track her down to a quicksand pit. As they try to save her, however, her claims are at least partially justified when they are shocked to discover a monstrous carnivorous plant from Equestria running wild and attacking them. While Twilight holds it at bay, Sunset tries to get Dash out but, in the process, discovers that the quicksand pit is shallow and seems to be concealing golden light. Getting an idea, she shoves Dash the rest of the way into the quicksand before grabbing Twilight and throwing themselves both into it. Moments later, the three find themselves in the Everfree Forest in Equestria…all three transformed into ponies.

After getting over the initial shock of their transformation, Dash decides that hanging out in Equestria for a while in pony form would be the best way to give Twilight a different kind of vacation to make up for her behavior on the cruise. Twilight seems to agree, and she, Sunset, and Dash end up sneaking into the Castle of Friendship and meeting up with Equestrian Twilight Sparkle, Spike, and Pinkie Pie to relax and learn about the world. While they’re having fun, however, the storm in the human world grows more violent and, in their desperation to get the ship working again, the girls accidentally run the cruise ship into the rocks surrounding the deserted island; causing the ship to begin to sink. In Equestria, meanwhile, Equestrian Twilight shows off some of the notable items from their adventures and ends up showing off the Staff of Soconus from their fight against the Storm King, which supposedly contains the remains of the magical storm he generated. Yet on seeing his symbol around it, Dash realizes it’s the same symbol from the ocean she saw the night before, and the humans-turned-ponies realize that the remains of his storm are wrecking havoc on the human world.

Sunset, Twilight, and Dash take the Staff of Soconus and return to the human world to use it to stop the storm, but the ship is still sinking. After Twilight and Dash make up with one another, they and Sunset return to the boat and, with Twilight accepting Dash’s earlier statement that the girls are in fact “superheroes”, they end up saving the rest of the passengers and getting them to shore. Unfortunately, they are now all stranded on a deserted island, and in the end the only way for them to get back is to cross through Equestria to access the portal Equestrian Twilight has in the castle. This leads to a final scene of Equestrian Twilight and Spike getting an unexpected visit by a large crowd of humans-turned-ponies.

Review:

When I first saw this on TV, I didn’t think too bad of it. Unfortunately, on rewatch, this episode entered the elite segment of episodes that go downhill on seeing them the second time. This is possibly the lowest point of the entire spinoff series thus far.

It was at this point that the fundamental flaws of Equestria Girls versus its parent series began to become apparent. I’ll go over that in more detail when I cover the final special, but here I’ll start touching on them. The problem isn’t that there is anything overwhelmingly bad with this special; it’s that there are lots of small things that are a little bad that add up to a mess.

The problems begin right with the setup. One of the big issues that Equestria Girls shares with MLP:FIM is that almost all of the episodes are reactionary. The girls do some activity purely out of fun, some conflict arises, and the girls are forced to resolve it. However, there has to be something about it. Something fun. Something magical. Perhaps even the act of ponies doing something normally reserved for humans. Here it’s the girls going on a Spring Break cruise. A cruise in and of itself is neither a dramatic nor dangerous situation; it’s a time to relax. In fact, part of the reason the worst Equestria Girls specials are so bad is that the setup is always boring: the girls are doing something that’s non-dangerous and is essentially an activity for fun or relaxation. (True, the ponies do that a lot too, but I’ll get into why there’s a difference here later…)

Since the original three EG movies, one can make the argument that the villains have consistently gone downhill in one way or another (Wallflower Blush being the one something of an exception), and this special is another step down in that there really isn’t any villain. For that matter it’s kind of unclear what the conflict really is. The special’s resolution is mostly trying to escape from a bad situation, which makes this movie more of a giant version of one of the shorts rather than a narrative going to a conclusion.

On that note, the main series has lampooned itself before by saying that all of its plotlines can be broken down into a “friendship problem” or a “monster attack”. This special doesn’t really seem to commit itself to either. The situation with the storm is so inconsistently focused on that it’s unclear how much of it is supposed to be a threat, let alone a sentient one to be dealt with. Yet what really falls apart is the friendship problem angle. What exactly did Rainbow Dash and Sci-Twi learn at the end of the episode? Was the goal for Sci-Twi to accept that they’re superheroes? That they’re going to have to do Equestian magic clean-up duty all the time? Was the goal supposed to be they needed to back Dash up from now on whenever she went on one of her almost-crazy searches for a problem that needed fixing?

That brings into the next bad part of this special…the plotline just isn’t put together that well. It’s weird that Dash is suddenly obsessed with finding villains to fight, and obsessed to the point where she starts being so oddly thoughtless and even almost crazy. It’s weird that Pinkie gets so easily banned from the buffet for an accident that wasn’t her fault. It’s weird that Dash simply talking sternly to a rabbit ruins the petting zoo. It’s weird that they tried to shoehorn in this totally pointless love subplot with Rarity and Ragamuffin that went nowhere (Was he supposed to be some sort of Leonardo DiCaprio joke?).

There is a legitimate few seconds that’s a combination of sweetness as well as the elephant in the room being pointed out: the fact that everything that has gone wrong in the human world is, in fact, Sunset Shimmer’s fault and ultimately traces back to her, as well as a cementing of the sister-ly relationship she’s formed with Sci-Twi (“I wouldn’t trade you for anything in the world…or any world.”) Yet it’s also a poor plot item, because it’s used only as a quick plot device to give Sunset and Sci-Twi a reason to pair together to go after Dash as opposed to all the girls or just Sci-Twi. It comes out of nowhere and is used just for that, so even it seems cheap and ultimately forced.

Really, this isn’t anything new for the franchise. They did things similar to it in other specials. The problem is here it’s especially poignant because this special has so much wasted potential. One of the things that actually got me a bit excited for this was when I saw the Storm King emblem in the previews. That actually got me a bit hyped. I actually thought it might have meant we’d see a humanized Storm King or, dare I say it, a humanized Tempest Shadow. Even if that didn’t take place, however, I also knew from previews this was going to be the first time we truly saw the Humane Seven go the other way through the mirror portal and end up as ponies. I thought about what this would mean. What the ramifications would be of them meeting their Equestrian counterparts. What sort of things they might see in each other now that they were looking at how they turned out in a different world. How this would frame their thoughts toward Sunset Shimmer now that they actually knew the world she originated from. Perhaps, even, that the two sides would end up switching places and be forced to work out an issue from the standpoint of the other: the Humane Seven needing to master their new bodies and be confronted in a world that’s fantasy based without any of the comforts or conveniences of the human world, and the Mane Six needing to try and work out an issue as normal humans.

None of that happened. Most of the Humane Seven as ponies is never even seen, and when it is seen it comes off as Sunset, Sci-Twi, and Human Dash taking a thoughtless vacation while leaving their friends to rot. (Even accounting for the storm not getting worse, they know full well they’re struggling to get the ship running again and keep the passengers calm.) Yet I realized that, even if they did, it wouldn’t really matter. Again, I want to keep some of this for my final special review, but the issue is that most of the Humane Seven are nothing more than transplants of their source characters. You know who these people are, whether they’re in human form or pony form, and so there’s really nothing new to compare. The only two who are different are the two Twilights. While Equestrian Twilight has grown over the series to become more active, composed, and thinking of the future of her world as a whole, Human Twilight prefers to be more on the sidelines and to embody more of the character type of “the quiet, awkward brainy one”. There’s enough there that you know there’s more than splits them apart than just Sci-Twi’s glasses. For everyone else, there’s nothing.

By this point in the series, these omissions are no longer just disappointing; they’re official failures. The whole “point” of this special, if you can call it that, was Sci-Twi accepting the role of the Humane Seven as basically magical girls. Yet not only does the Equestria Girls series fail to properly execute the keystone pieces of a magical girl series, they overlook what opportunities they have. And this one did the worst so far. At the bare minimum, we expect, if nothing else, at the end of one of these episodes either a character will grow or a relationship will grow. Neither happened in this episode. Honestly, I’m not sure it even has a moral. And when a special is robbed of an interesting plot, a good message, and even forfeits a chance for fun and action, what does that leave it with? A huge pile of more-than-bland meh.

My guess is this episode, more than “Sunset’s Backstage Pass”, had to do with why the line was eventually cancelled. To me, this episode dug a grave for any potential future longevity the franchise had.

Fun Facts:

The Humane Six have all worked their respective geodes into some accessory on their attire rather than the normal hanging around the neck.

Pinkie Pie and Bulk Biceps reenact the “I’m flying” big from “Titanic” on the prow of the cruise ship. Ironically, the Lux Deluxe also sinks on the second day.

As a bit of meta humor, when Rainbow Dash fantasizes about a sea monster attacking the cruise ship and Fluttershy asks if the sea monster is ok at the end, she answers that the sea monster is their friend now. Basically, it sums up almost every Equestria Girls special. :/

Based on the context, it appears Sci-Twi may have paid for the trip for the Human Seven, although it’s also equally likely they simply got it for free as part of the live entertainment. It lend more credence to the possibility that she is, in fact, from a wealthy family.

I guess this particular episode gained its Y7 rating when Applejack was trying to talk over a mouth full of vomit and swallowed it down. Yuck…but the show didn’t have the chutzpah to have her ralph all over Rainbow.

Kind of a weird thought… At Bronycon 2018, Tabitha St. Germain read one of her fan-written scripts which featured and alternate-universe version of Derpy who was a superhero named Ragamuffin. I just found it ironic that Rarity ended up playing off a Cockney-themed character named Ragamuffin in this special.

The Youtube version of segment two accidentally plays scenes from a later installment when Ragamuffin says goodbye the Rarity.

Although Flash Sentry is pretty much officially a background character by this point in the series, he nevertheless goes starry-eyed when Sunset looks at him during the song.

Why is the chef guarding the desserts? Aren’t they free to the guests?

The special references a line of shorts from Youtube in which the Humane Seven were working on a school play. The constant references to the main character being a “coal miner’s daughter” are no doubt a reference to Loretta Lynn.

The look on Ragamuffin’s face when Dash yanks Rarity away… O_o

At least Fluttershy remembered to feed Pinkie Pie. Were they really planning on not letting her eat on board the ship just for the mishaps with the cake?

First time the animators have gotten a chance to do Twilight as a unicorn in a while. 🙂 I figure Sunset is happy she’s not an alicorn…

“All my things are HORSE THINGS!” Ok…that was a legitimately funny line from this special.

The human-turned-pegasus Rainbow Dash initially lets her wings hang low. Apparently, pegasi need to practice keeping their wings folded on their backs for normal day-to-day activities.

Is there a “Thunderlane Jr.” in Equestria?

The painting Spike is hanging is reminiscent of Salvador Dali’s “The Persistence of Memory”. There’s a good chance Salvador-Dali-pony painted it. 😛

Somehow, Equestrian Twilight Sparkle instantly recognizes that human Rainbow Dash isn’t her Rainbow Dash. Perhaps there’s subtle nuances that ponies can recognize.

Then again, maybe not. Pinkie Pie doesn’t realize the Sci-Twi is a version of Twilight Sparkle due to her glasses. This might be a joke toward the infamous Clark Kent/Superman secret identity.

Human Rainbow Dash (as a pony) makes the infamous “20% Cooler” joke. Har-har. 😛

Telekinesis is apparently somewhat innate to unicorns, as Sci-Twi was able to start using her horn’s magic in spite of having only been a unicorn for a few hours. Of course, this might have been as clear as early as Season Two’s “Baby Cakes”.

Part of the things Equestrian Twilight brought out for the humans-turned-ponies to look at includes Pinkie Pie’s “new friends” from Season One’s “Party of One”. O_o Other items include the relics that would feature in the Season Eight finale, Boneless 2 (in a custom-made case, no less), the glow-paz that Dr. Cabelleron stole, the Staff of Sameness (which should really just be a stick…), and…the Alicorn Amulet? Maybe Twilight should keep that away from the humans…

One of the more notable goofs of this episode is that it basically ret-conned part of the MLP Movie while trying to reference it. The Storm King didn’t have any magical power of his own. All of the magic he possessed was in the Staff of Soconus, which he absorbed from the alicorns, and was supposedly restored to them and Equestria at the end of the movie. One could make the argument that maybe the big magic storm he made itself was what was still lingering behind, but the episode doesn’t say that directly so I’m calling it a goof.

“WARK! The ship is still sinking! WARK!” Ok…TWO funny lines.

I don’t know if I ever noticed this before but, when “ponied-up”, all of the girls seem to be capable of sustained flight and not just Sci-Twi, Fluttershy, and Rainbow Dash.

Unfortunately, none of the human-exclusive characters are shown in pony form at the end of the special.

Rating: 

1 Star out of 5